Photo courtesy http://www.richmondspeaksaboutlumpkins.org/ and www.facebook.com/RichmondSlaveTrail
The consulting group that held the "Richmond Speaks" public forums on the future of the Lumpkin's Jail site in Shockoe Bottom just released a preliminary report of community feedback from the meetings.
Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced the initiative in August, saying then that he envisioned it as a “a city-wide conversation about the future of Lumpkin’s and this heritage asset, ways in which we can make it more vital in our community.”
Here are five takeaways from the report:
- Engagement – Participation in the series was not stellar. Between seven public meetings and eight classroom visits, the consulting firm the city hired to lead the process tallied 450 “ in-person engagements.” About 950 unique users visited the interactive website organizers set up. Tammy Hawley, a spokesperson for the mayor's office, says the administration is pleased with the community response thus far.
- Scope – Many participants cited in the report do not believe commemorating the Lumpkin’s Jail site alone is adequate to tell the complete story of Shockoe Bottom’s slave-trading history. Several participants called for more archaeological study of the area, as well as additional space in the Bottom devoted to some type of memorial. The report states that the Richmond Slave Trail Commission will develop adjacent sites “as funding becomes available.” Currently, $13 million is set aside for memorializing the Lumpkin’s site.
- Priorities – The report makes no formal recommendations for how the city should develop the site, but lists priorities for the memorialization plans based on feedback. Those priorities are: “Expansive, community-focused, educational, authentic, interactive and sustainable.” The report also points to examples of heritage and memorial sites that embody those qualities in other cities. Some of those examples include: the Birmingham Civil Rights District in Birmingham, Alabama; Franklin Court at the Benjamin Franklin Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.
- Frustration – The report acknowledges that many people who participated in the meetings were wary that “anything will ever happen in Shockoe Bottom” to commemorate the slave trade because of past delays and failures. The report adds that there is a “sincere desire to see something happen immediately” at the site.
- What’s next? – The city will host a public forum on Thursday, Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. at the University of Richmond. At the meeting, attendees will “have the opportunity to vote on the priorities and recommend steps to accomplish goals,” according to the report.
Read the full report here.